Why free translation websites actually cost you money

Reason #211 Everything in life shouldn’t be free

“Free” is the most searched word on the internet. Unfortunately, however, there are some things that simply should not be free. Free translation websites are one of them.

Although it is extremely fascinating that free translation websites produce copy in another language with the mere click of  a mouse, they can give the dangerous illusion that anyone with a computer and internet access can produce quality, accurate translations that can be understood.

Not convinced? Let’s translate a simple phrase that you may see on a counter in a business:

“Please ring bell for service.”

According to freetranslation.com, that translates to:

“Llame por favor la campana para el servicio.”

Which means:

Please call the bell for the service. Hmmm…..well what if the bell can’t hear me?

Let’s now try a phrase that you often see in retail marketing:

“Blowout sale! Everything 50% off!”

According to world.altavista.com/tr, that translates to:

“¡Venta de separación del escape! ¡Todo el 50% apagado!

Which is not understood at all in Spanish. The closest literal translation I could come up with would be perhaps:

Separation sale from the escape! All 50% is turned off!

Huh? Yeah, me neither….

It’s obvious from looking at these two simple examples that it is not safe to depend on free translation websites to translate your documents. Free translation websites are merely a tool that can  be useful for understanding materials in another language. For example, if you receive a correspondence or document in Spanish that you don’t understand, using a free translation website would be an economical way of getting the gist of the information.

However, using free translation websites is NOT appropriate for communication with the public, especially if you own your own business and need to market to Hispanic customers, or if you are in a profession where communication between you and your customer is vital.

For example, if you are a doctor and give post-op instructions in English to a patient who only reads Spanish, an accurate translation could literally spell the difference between life or death of the patient.

Also, if you are serious about your business, you will find that eventually you will have to pay someone to fix the translation, and that will result in additional costs in labor, printing, production, and time.

So, even though you may feel a sense of satisfaction in doing your own translations, it’s not worth it. It’s always best to hire a professional. That way they can do it once, and do it right.

Latino Outreach Consulting of NC doesn’t use free translation websites or translation software; we translate all documents personally.  That way you save time and money and can be sure that your message is not lost in translation.

Contact us to submit a document for translation.